In case you haven’t been paying attention, this week has been a pretty huge week for Google. They have made some big announcements that, I think, will have some pretty big influence on the future of technology. They may not seem like much on the surface or by themselves but when you see them all on the same page together the story takes a different form. Below are some of them and how I think could shake out.
Less than four years after its introduction, the Chrome browser is now the top choice as it edged out IE to become the “Web’s most used browser”. This is something that no other browser has been able to do – including the sweetheart underdog Firefox. This is particularly interesting since Google introduced the Chrome OS and started shipping Chomebooks that essentially turn hardware into dummy terminals. This means anyone can use any computer that has this OS as if it were their own – seamlessly. Why so interesting? Well, the Chrome browser essentially IS the interface for the Chrome OS. While Chromebooks haven’t caught on in a huge way – yet – it stands to reason that the more comfortable the general populous is with Chrome, the more likely they will make the decision to take the plunge and go to a complete cloud OS.
With the introduction of social search a few months back Google has made it’s industry dominating search even better. Now, Google has embraced what they call the Knowledge Graph (as opposed to the somewhat useless Social Graph) that actually connects people to information based on passion, interest, and knowledge instead of us simply “knowing each other online”. Just in case anyone was thinking about taking a shot at the king, Google turns around and innovates innovates innovates. Panda, then Social Search, and now Knowledge Graph. This brings Google a little closer to an artificial intelligence-type search. It’s going to be hard for anyone to think about challenging them on the search front from quite some time.
A new product Google is working on that isn’t really showing up in the mainstream yet but is all the talk amongst us geeks is Google Glasses. They just were awarded seven more new patents – and only one of them for design. The other six were for what they are calling their “heads up technology’ and how it works. Essentially, this product will be a visor (or something similar) that you can wear over your eyes that will give you almost a sixth sense. It’s commonly referred to as augmented reality.
Imagine walking down the isles of your local grocery store and by simply looking at the products on the shelves you could be alerted to the best product relative to your needs. If you only shop organic, it could tell you if it was really organic or just a packaging trick. If you made your shopping list prior to coming to the store, you could be given an alert when you looked at a product that you needed and which one is the best buy. You could easily be told which direction to walk toward your next meeting in the neighborhood. You could even be sent alerts right across your visor while you are in that meeting with timely information from any source you may choose. The possibilities are endless and what’s so ironic is that the information already exists. Remember, Google is an information company. They are now just building the hardware to serve up that information in an easier, faster way.
Larry Page announces in NYC this week that Google to give office space to Cornell’s new engineering school
So now Google is getting into bed with Cornell – am amazing resource for smart people. What does Google covet most? Smarts. Yes, this is certainly going to be Google’s farm system. Page actually made mention of Google’s Self-Driving Car and the video they recently made showing how it works. If you haven’t seen it, please watch this below. It may be one of the coolest things you have ever seen that wasn’t Sci-Fi.
Even more interesting than Google’s interest in academia and perhaps having an advantage with regard to recruiting directly out of such an institution is that they will realistically have INFLUENCE on academia and will help to shape and form at least the computer science program of this and other schools of this ilk. Who knows, there may even be Google-specific classes offered for students that want to be specifically educated on engineering and computer science ‘the Google way’. This is pretty powerful and a little scary to some, I’m sure. Going back to the example of the Self-Driving Car, imagine instead of Google designing the mechanisms that go into retrofitting existing cars, custom tailoring the engineers they need to build those vehicles that best lend themselves to Google’s needs. It’s a pretty exciting prospect.
In case you are not aware, the most popular mobile operating system in the US (and maybe the world at this point but don’t quote me on that) is the Android OS. There are basically three companies out there that make the best Android phones that everyone seems to gobble up – HTC, Samsung, and Motorola. These three companies are part of the reason that Android has been able to dominate the market in such a short amount of time. Now Google owns one. What does that do to the direction of mobile hardware? Will Google become the sole manufacturer of the Droid? Will HTC and Samsung be left out in the cold? Will Google do something similar to Apple and take back a bit of control of the OS to improve quality, consistency and features? I’ll tell you this, if they purchase a carrier it’s ON!
Let’s review: hardware, search, hardware, academia/hardware, mobile hardware. See a trend here? Google is diversifying as they have been for some time but they are being a bit more overt about making inroads into the consumer technology space and not limiting themselves to search and information leveraging. I think it’s a good thing. I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy Nexus directly from Google. It’s perhaps the best phone I have ever held in my hand. I think they have been testing the waters for some time and now they are getting ready to do this on a grand scale. I joke around all the time and say that you can make anything better by “sprinkling a little Google on it.” Seems there’s going to be more and more physical products with that logo on them coming. Do you have any ideas of some of the others?
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